Help fight hate crimes as a ‘Safe Place’: New program from SPD

May 21, 2015 at 12:47 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | No Comments

Just out of the WSB inbox:

Today Mayor Murray and Chief of Police Kathleen O’Toole announced SPD Safe Place, a public education and visibility campaign aimed at preventing and responding to anti-LGBT bias crimes.

“Seattle welcomes all people,” said Mayor Ed Murray. “There is no place for bigotry or harassment in our city. We developed Safe Place so that businesses and community organizations can visibly stand up against intolerance and provide shelter to victims.”

SPD Safe Place is a voluntary program that provides businesses and organizations with decals and information on how to report malicious harassment, more commonly known as hate crimes. Training for these organizations includes when and how to call 911, sheltering victims of crime until police arrive and proactive outreach about working with the SPD’s LGBT liaison officer.

“Seattle Police officers work every day with the diverse communities of Seattle to ensure safety. SPD Safe Place is another way of connecting and educating those who live, work and visit Seattle about how the SPD can assist in times of crisis,” said Chief Kathleen O’Toole.

Businesses, organizations and educational institutions can request SPD Safe Place placards or posters and learn about how to work with police to prevent and address anti-LGBT crime concerns at www.seattle.gov/spd-safe-place.

New movie ‘Tomorrowland’ co-created by West Seattle native Jeff Jensen

May 20, 2015 at 7:33 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people, WS culture/arts | 5 Comments

Planning to see the about-to-open movie “Tomorrowland“? You’ll be watching the work of a West Seattle native.

It’s co-written and executive-produced by Jeff Jensen, who grew up in West Seattle and went to Hope Lutheran School and Seattle Lutheran High School.

(Photo of Jeff Jensen, courtesy Mike Jensen)
That news is courtesy of Jeff’s proud brother Mike Jensen, who got to join his brother at the recent world premiere of “Tomorrowland” at the home of the film’s namesake, Disneyland. (The movie, starring George Clooney, is NOT about that part or any part of Disneyland, however.)

You might know Jeff Jensen already for his writing – which most recently has included what he called a “distant prequel” to the movie, “Before Tomorrowland.” He’s particularly well-known for what he’s written about the TV series “Lost.”

You will be able to watch this movie co-written by a West Seattleite without leaving West Seattle – it’ll be at The Admiral Theater starting Friday. (Jeff Jensen pointed that out on his Twitter feed.)

Congratulations! Mentoring award for Denny teacher Will Nelson

May 15, 2015 at 1:46 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people, West Seattle schools | 5 Comments


Congratulations to Denny International Middle School teacher Will Nelson – his colleagues are so proud of his mentoring award, we heard about it as a tweet (above) from assistant principal Patricia Rangel and in the note below from principal Jeff Clark:

Please join me in congratulating Mr. Nelson on winning the Lee McNeil Mentoring Award presented by the Marine Technology Society for his years of mentorship with our underwater robotics program. Way to go, Mr. Nelson! Go Dolphins!

Senior Center of West Seattle invites you to Karen Sisson’s retirement party on June 10

May 10, 2015 at 6:47 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 1 Comment

One month from today, you’re invited to join the Senior Center of West Seattle in celebrating its former longtime leader, Karen Sisson. Sent tonight by center board member Sandie Wilkinson:

We will be celebrating the retirement party for Karen Sisson after her 25 years as Executive Director of the Senior Center of West Seattle. It will be held at the Senior Center on June 10th from 5 to 8 PM and the community is welcome to come by and wish her the best. The theme of the party is Gone Boating, since she and her husband will be spending more time on their boat now that she is retired.

During the retirement party Dow Constantine will be helping us to dedicate the building housing, and owned by, the Senior Center as the Sisson Building at 7 PM.

We are also excited to announce that on June 8th the Seattle City Council will be meeting to vote on a Proclamation declaring June 10th as Karen Sisson Day; we encourage our community to join the meeting as well.

Memorial service next Friday for Margaret A. Skube, 1954-2015

May 10, 2015 at 4:00 pm | In Obituaries, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 1 Comment

Family and friends will gather Friday (May 15th) to remember Margaret Skube, who died in February at age 60. Here’s the remembrance they’re sharing with the community:

Margaret Ann Skube passed away on February 27th, 2015, surrounded by her family.

She was born in West Seattle on October 10, 1954 to Galina and Noel (Cam) Skube. She attended Alki Elementary and Madison Junior High, and graduated from West Seattle High School with the class of 1972.

After working as a cook on cargo ships to Alaska with Western Pioneer for many years, she moved to Stanwood, WA, where she raised her daughter Calley.

Calley and her husband, Lane, blessed Margaret by giving her three beautiful grandchildren, Adalynn, Fionnegan, and Gillian. They were the light of her life.

Margaret will be remembered for her love of life, willingness to try just about anything, and for living her life at 100% in all she did. Margaret loved to garden, cook, swim, and to play games. She loved to travel, meet people, and to learn new things. She lived her life just the way she wanted to and always hoped for a better day. She certainly had her own sense of style, and always brought a change of clothes, since “anything could happen.” She was a fun-loving, positive, and hopeful woman.

Besides her daughter’s family, she leaves behind her dad, Cam, her niece Elle, and nephew Seth. She was preceded in death by her mother Galina and her brother Peter. She will be deeply missed by her many friends and her beloved Beaver Damn Campout girlfriends.

Her celebration of life will be Friday afternoon, May 15, 2015 from 11:00 – 2:00 at the Lakewood Seward Park Community Club, 4916 S. Angeline St.

(WSB publishes West Seattle obituaries by request, free of charge. Please e-mail the text, and a photo if available, to editor@westseattleblog.com)

West Seattle Amateur Radio Club: Hobby has ‘something for everyone’

May 10, 2015 at 1:55 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 2 Comments

EDITOR’S NOTE: Last night, reporting on two West Seattle Emergency Communication Hubs participating in a citywide preparedness drill, we mentioned amateur-radio operators’ involvement. A new member of the West Seattle Amateur Radio Club board recently offered this story about who they are, what they do, and how you can get involved; this seems like the perfect time to publish it.

(West Seattle ARC photo – board members, from left: Secretary Lance Rasmussen, K7LER; board position 2, Tom Saunders, N7OEP; vice president Curt Black, WR5J; board position 1, Kayla Ware, KG7PJW; president Ken Iverson, AB7X; board position 3, Jim Edwards, WS7JIM; not pictured, treasurer Dave Hillier, AF7CW)

By Jim Edwards
WS7JIM
Special to West Seattle Blog

For those who remember Grandpa down in the basement with a set of headphones on, turning a big radio dial, and think that’s what Amateur Radio is, you’re not alone. But in fact, it is a wide-ranging hobby. If you want to hide in the basement, and do that … it’s still an option. But it’s so much more, that anyone can find an area of interest to explore.

When I got into Amateur radio, I did it for the purpose of expanding the communications available to the West Seattle Parade Committee. With small UHF radios, club members are able to communicate with each other through the club repeater located on a City of Seattle tower near the High Point water tanks. I quickly learned that the West Seattle Amateur Radio Club (WSARC) has one of the best-placed repeaters in the city.

The West Seattle Parade route – at one and a half miles, with a large hill in the middle and increasingly taller buildings lining the street – makes it a difficult situation for radio. Seafair Parade Marshals and the radio club that supports the Seafair Parade Marshals struggle with this growing problem each year. WSARC came to the parade committee a couple years ago with an offer to help. The radio net they set up spans the entire parade route, and helps to bring together all of this communication. I wanted to be a part of that, so I studied and got my license.

There are three levels of licensing in Amateur Radio. Each level opens up more of the radio spectrum reserved for Amateur Radio. Each level requires a greater understanding of radio operation, and the electrical know-how to not get yourself in trouble. The three levels are Technician, General, and Amateur Extra. When I took my General test, one of the youngest members of the WSARC club was also updating her license to General. At 9 years old, she managed to complete the test in half the time it took me. And her two older sisters did it even faster.

What can you do with a radio license? A huge part of the hobby is emergency preparedness. Honing those radio skills is why you go out and volunteer at events like the West Seattle Parade. But beyond that, the hobby has much more, such as:

HF radio: Talking to contacts around the world, for fun, or in contests. You can do this with voice, Morse code, or digital formats. You can bounce signals off the atmosphere, a passing satellite, communicate with the International Space Station, even bounce a signal off the moon.

UHF / VHF: Usually short-range communication, but can be extended with repeaters. With a computer connected to the radio, you can send messages and pictures digitally. With APRS you can set up a radio-based tracking system.

Echolink and IRLP: Through an application on a cell phone or computer, a licensed Amateur can broadcast on radio repeaters around the world via the internet.

Mesh networks: Licensed Amateurs can build their own WiFi computer networks that encompass entire neighborhoods.

You can participate with the Seattle Auxiliary Communication Service. You can help out with West Seattle Be Prepared in disaster preparedness. On any night of the week you can tune into radio nets across the city. You can help produce events like The West Seattle Parade, or any of the Seafair parades around the city. The list of events is endless. The level of expertise varies with the many events. The bottom line is, there is something for everyone.

To get into the hobby, you need to take a FCC test. From time to time, WSARC holds training classes to help you prepare for those tests. And they also have the certified personnel to give the tests too. The filing fee for the test is $15, and the license is good for 10 years. And no, you don’t need to learn Morse Code. The costs of the hobby vary, depending what you want to do. But you can get started with a handheld UHF/VHF radio, for under $50. Currently the FCC shows more than 330 Licensed Amateur operators in the West Seattle area alone.

Membership in the West Seattle ARC is $12 a year. We meet weekly on the air on Mondays at 6:30 PM using the club repeater, W7AW. Each month we gather for breakfast on the 3rd Sunday (this month, that’s May 17th) at 9:30 am, at Young’s Restaurant at 9413 16th Ave SW, just a half block north of Roxbury.

If you would like more information, you can send your inquiries to info@westseattlearc.org.

West Seattle weekend scene: Seafair Pirates, ahoy!

May 9, 2015 at 8:55 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 1 Comment

As promised: Here’s why the Seafair Pirates turned up in the middle of our West Seattle Community Garage Sale Day coverage (9th photo). We were out photographing sales when a tip caused us to change course and set sail for Don Armeni Boat Ramp, where the Pirates were arriving for their annual photo shoot – Moby Duck and all.

It won’t be long until they’re back, this time arriving by sea – the annual Seafair Pirates Landing at Alki Beach is only seven weeks from today, on Saturday, June 27th.

You’ll also see them in the West Seattle Grand Parade on Saturday, July 18th. And you never know when and where else … keep a weather eye on the horizon (or, at least, your rear-view mirror)!

FOLLOWUP: West Seattle kids raise money to help Nepal

May 9, 2015 at 8:20 pm | In How to help, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 3 Comments

Lots of kindhearted people out and about on West Seattle Community Garage Sale Day, with benefit sales and post-sale donations. The generosity includes what these kids did, setting up shop along California SW in Gatewood to sell lemonade and treats to help earthquake survivors in Nepal!

They were only out for three hours this morning but they were able to raise $180 for Nepal SEEDS, according to Sandy, who shared the photos afterward, explaining that their friend Cris Miller, a West Seattleite, is on the group’s board, and that Nepal SEEDS is “in major fundraising mode to assist in earthquake relief and re-building in the villages they work in.”

Congratulations! Six local high-school students honored by the American Association of University Women

May 6, 2015 at 9:15 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 2 Comments

Thanks to Marilyn Mears for the photo and report:

Six senior girls, three each from West Seattle High School and Chief Sealth International High School, were honored recently by AAUW (American Association of University Women), Seattle Branch, for their achievement in the areas of Math, Science, and Technology. The girls were chosen by their schools and received certificates and a small monetary award at an evening reception at the Best Western Executive Inn on April 22. The speaker at the event was Renee Agutsama, a former high school science teacher who is currently completing her PhD in Public Health Genetics, with a focus on Genetics and Arts Education.

West Seattle High School honorees included: Abigayle Riggins (Math), Annalisa Ursino (Science), and Kristine Le (Technology).

Chief Sealth International High School honorees included: Monica Harris (Math), Gabrielle Fillis (Science), and Thy Duong (Technology).

[L-R in photo above - Ursino, Riggins, Duong, Harris; Le & Fillis, not pictured]

AAUW is a national organization which advances equity for women and girls through advocacy, education, philanthropy and research.

VIDEO: West Seattle’s Erden Eruç en route to new rowing adventure

May 2, 2015 at 11:11 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | No Comments

Next stop, Atlantic Ocean from Avenue Collection on Vimeo.

Erden Eruç, the West Seattle-residing rower who holds a world record as first solo human-powered global circumnavigator, is off on another adventure. Mark Jaroslaw put together the video above with the story of his departure – crossing the country to start his NY to Gallipoli Memorial Row, explained on Eruç’s website as “… in memory of all those who lost their lives during the Gallipoli Campaign, Erden Eruç and his team will row eastbound across the Atlantic Ocean from New York, then east on the Mediterranean and the Aegean seas to ANZAC Cove.” We last featured Eruç here in March, when he spoke at Emerald Water Anglers (WSB sponsor) in The Junction. Eruç will be “using his satellite phone to post text and visual updates across the Atlantic,” Jaroslaw reports.

VIDEO: West Seattle swimmer Wayne Kinslow’s milestone – 1,000 consecutive days of swimming off Alki

April 27, 2015 at 4:55 pm | In West Seattle beaches, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 8 Comments

Maybe you’ve seen Wayne Kinslow swimming off Alki and wondered if it was just somebody on a dare. Nope. Wayne swims off Alki every day. And we do mean, EVERY day. Today happened to be his THOUSANDTH consecutive day of swimming off Alki – that’s almost three years without missing a day, rain or shine or snow. Among those capturing the historic occasion – Clay Eals, executive director of the Southwest Seattle Historical Society:

During a quick post-swim interview, Wayne, who’s an Alki resident as well as Alki swimmer, received a trophy of sorts:

Here’s a closer look:

He’s still swimming tonight too, as mentioned in our daily calendar highlights, and invites you to join him in celebrating the milestone – meet up at the Alki fire rings around 6:30, group swim set for about 7 pm, then a potluck and bonfire. By the way, according to a NOAA buoy, today’s water temperature in Elliott Bay is about 51 degrees.

PHOTOS: Seattle Lutheran’s Ring of Honor tribute for Bob Dowding

April 19, 2015 at 5:40 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people, West Seattle schools | 2 Comments

Two months after cancer claimed the life of longtime Seattle Lutheran High School teacher and athletic director Bob Dowding, the school gave him its ultimate tribute last night – induction into the SLHS Ring of Honor. That came during a dinner event in which many memories were shared.

That’s head of school Dave Meyer, who talked about arriving in 1995 to be Hope Lutheran‘s PE teacher, and meeting Bob, joking that he wanted the SLHS AD job that Bob held. He came to realize that Bob’s real job was creating and building communities – including at athletic organizations including the Washington Interscholastic Athletics Association. And, Meyer said, he still aspires to Bob’s “real job” – mentoring and encouraging kids, and building community. One of those Bob had mentored also spoke:

Holy Names Academy athletic director Lacey London, a 2000 SLHS graduate, talked about how Bob was such a big influence in her decision to go into teaching and athletics. Her first coaching job was when he asked her to help with Lutheran’s girls-basketball team while she was transitioning between colleges. Among the many others there to pay tribute to Bob – his family, receiving the plaque honoring him:

There was even a cake in his honor:

Bob Dowding was 67 years old.

Services planned May 15th for James D. Finnie, 1946-2015

April 19, 2015 at 2:21 pm | In Obituaries, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 3 Comments

A memorial service and celebration of life are planned May 15th for James D. Finnie, 68, whose family is sharing this remembrance:

The family of Jim Finnie is sad to announce his passing on March 30, 2015, after a long journey with early-onset Alzheimer’s. Jim was born in West Seattle on April 19, 1946, to Walt and Millie Finnie, the youngest of their five children.

After graduation from West Seattle High School in 1964, Jim married Marge in 1965 while they were attending Western Washington State College, only to have the military decide they needed him a short time later. He served in the US Army from 1966-69, most of that time in Germany, where he and Marge enjoyed many adventures together.

In 1975, Jim began his career as a Seattle firefighter, and always felt fortunate to be paid to do something he loved so much. The majority of his career was served at local Station 32.

Outside of work, Jim had many interests and skills- woodworking, golf, competitive shooting, and countless hours out on the Sound, with a fishing pole in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other (his idea of heaven!). He had a top-notch “Mr Fix-It” ability that led us all to believe there was nothing he couldn’t do. To all that he did, he brought his quirky sense of humor, and a smile, to those around him.

He was a loving and supportive husband and father, which led him to spend many years working with the Boy Scouts and driving the Kennedy High School band bus to assorted parades and retreats. He was enormously proud of his children.

He leaves behind his beloved wife Marge, and children Dave (Christy) Finnie and Krista (David) Hume. Six grandchildren: Alexa, Jessica, Sienna, Elijah, Rebecca, and Joshua. Predeceased by his parents and sister, Delores, and survived by brothers Bob (Durlyn) and Walt (Sharon) and sister Linda (Norm) Nelson.

Services to be held May 15, 1:00 pm, at Tahoma National Cemetery in Kent, followed by a celebration of life at the West Seattle Golf Course clubhouse, 2:30 pm. Suggested memorials to Medic One or West Seattle High School Alumni Association Scholarship fund.

(WSB publishes West Seattle obituaries by request, free of charge. Please e-mail the text, and a photo if available, to editor@westseattleblog.com)

West Seattle scene: Mayor’s lunchtime visit to Senior Center

April 16, 2015 at 7:49 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 2 Comments

Mayor Ed Murray was back in The Junction today, less than three weeks after his walking-tour/coffee-conversation stop. His stop at the Senior Center of West Seattle wasn’t an official speech/town-hall type visit, just an informal lunchtime conversation, though he took the microphone for a moment. Below, that’s center director Lyle Evans at left:

P.S. The Senior Center has a big series of classes coming up for people who might not think they are Senior Center-age yet … “Things to Know Now That You’re 50.” See the summary and sign up here.

Meet West Seattle Helpline’s new executive director Chris Langeler

April 15, 2015 at 11:41 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 5 Comments

He’s been on the job a few weeks, but in case you haven’t met him yet, West Seattle Helpline is officially announcing its new executive director, Chris Langeler:

West Seattle Helpline, a nonprofit social service agency offering emergency assistance for West Seattle residents, is pleased to welcome Chris Langeler as the new Executive Director. Mr. Langeler comes to West Seattle Helpline with years of experience in fundraising, social services, community development, management, and working with underserved individuals and families from diverse backgrounds.

Most recently, he managed the political campaigns for Washington State House of Representatives Speaker Frank Chopp and State Representative Brady Walkinshaw of Seattle during the 2014 election cycle. He is on the Board of Directors for the Delridge Neighborhood Development Association and volunteers at Southwest Youth and Family Services and at High Point Community Center.

Mr. Langeler earned his Master of Science in Community Research & Action at Vanderbilt University in 2013 and a Master of Public Administration from the University of Washington in 2015. Previously, he served as the Director of Research for the National Mobile Market, an organization dedicated to providing access to affordable, healthy food to food insecure neighborhoods nationwide. Prior to that, he worked in Portland, Oregon at the Boys and Girls Aid Society, a program to support youth transitioning out of the juvenile justice system.

“We are so excited to have Chris on board! With his solid experience and passion for our mission, Chris is going to have a huge impact on West Seattle families in need”, said Brooks Riendl, President of West Seattle Helpline’s Board of Directors.

Helpline’s next big event is the Taste of West Seattle, celebrating its 10th anniversary, coming up May 21st – ticket info is in our preview.

(Photo credit: WSB’s Patrick Sand)

Good luck! Local team in statewide Science Olympiad this Saturday

April 14, 2015 at 11:11 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 4 Comments

Good luck to Evergreen Science, a 15-member team of 6th-through-9th-grade-age homeschool students from West Seattle and South Seattle who are headed to a big competition this Saturday: The state-level Science Olympiad, to be held at Highline College in Des Moines. If they win, they’ll go to the National Science Olympiad, which will be held at the University of Nebraska in mid-May. Christine Ranegger e-mailed to let us know about Evergreen Science and pointed us to the official SO website for this explanation:

Science Olympiad competitions are like academic track meets, consisting of a series of 23 team events in each division (Division B is middle school; Division C is high school). Each year, a portion of the events are rotated to reflect the ever-changing nature of genetics, earth science, chemistry, anatomy, physics, geology, mechanical engineering and technology. By combining events from all disciplines, Science Olympiad encourages a wide cross-section of students to get involved. Emphasis is placed on active, hands-on group participation. Through Science Olympiad, students, teachers, parents, principals and business leaders bond together and work toward a shared goal.

Teamwork is a required skill in most scientific careers today, and Science Olympiad encourages group learning by designing events that forge alliances. In Elevated Bridge, an engineering whiz and a kid from wood shop can become gold medalists. Similarly, a talented builder and a student with a good science vocabulary can excel in Write It Do It, one of Science Olympiad’s most popular events.

This is the team’s third year of competition and second year making it to state, where they placed sixth last year but are hoping to win it all this time. The parent-coached team meets every Monday morning at a home in Admiral, and its subgroups have been getting together inbetween to train in their specific events; Evergreen Science also has been crowdfunding to cover expenses. They’ll know by Saturday night if those expenses will include a trip to Nebraska – Christine promises to let us know how they do!

Memorial on Wednesday for Barbara Cough Shea, 1930-2015: ‘Her generous spirit and love of fun live on’

April 12, 2015 at 7:39 pm | In Obituaries, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 6 Comments

Barbara Cough Shea, who lived for more than 35 years in West Seattle, will be remembered at a funeral Mass on Wednesday (April 15). Here’s the remembrance her family is sharing, telling the story of the many chapters of her life:

Barbara was born April 23, 1930, in Norridgewock, Maine, to Bernard Ezra “Bun” Cough and Helen Norton Cough. She grew up in Bar Harbor on Mount Desert Island, Maine, the second oldest and fast friend of her three siblings, Sonny, Janis and Jimmy. Her entrepreneurial and ever-scheming father had the family moving frequently around the town and pitching in on various family ventures. Her mother Helen was always there for her children.

Barbara graduated Bar Harbor High School and went on to attend college in Boston, where she reveled in the excitement and freedom of the city. Back in Bar Harbor during a break from school, she caught the attention of a college boy on vacation from studies in Miami. Barbara’s father was quite impressed to learn the “boy” was Bob Greive, a Washington state senator and law student. Barbara’s father arranged for her to transfer to school in Miami to encourage the romance. Bob and Barbara were married in Miami, just weeks before her 20th birthday. He was 29.

Following his law school graduation, Barbara and Bob settled in West Seattle, where they raised their six children. Barbara and the children were fixtures in the back pew of Holy Rosary Church during Sunday Mass while Bob ushered. She earned a reputation for her grace and elegance even as she wrangled squirming toddlers. She kept up appearances at daily Mass when slacks were taboo, hiding her pant legs by rolling them up above the hem of her long coat. She was a member of the Holy Rosary School Mothers Club for 18 years.

Click to read the rest of Memorial on Wednesday for Barbara Cough Shea, 1930-2015: ‘Her generous spirit and love of fun live on’…

OPEN LETTER: A grandmother says ‘thank you,’ and wonders about safety, after 4-year-old’s Alki seawall fall

April 11, 2015 at 9:31 pm | In Safety, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 53 Comments

That’s 4-year-old Aaron, photographed before a fall off the Alki seawall left him badly hurt. His grandmother Teri has written an open letter both to say thanks to the strangers who helped, and to voice concerns about safety:

On Tuesday, April 7th, at approximately 5:30 pm, my husband David, my 4-year old grandson Aaron and I were riding bikes along the 1300 block of Alki Avenue. We were in the bike lane, with Aaron following David, and I was bringing up the rear so I could keep a watchful eye on Aaron. Part way through the ride, Aaron apparently decided he wanted to ride along the path on the other side of the sidewalk and veered off in that direction. Despite my calls for him to stop, Aaron continued on toward the path and the unprotected bulkhead. He managed to stop his bike before it went over the edge, but he went flying over the handlebars and over the edge of the bulkhead, landing face first on the boulders 6-8 feet below street level.

As I scrambled off my bike and ran, horrified, toward where I had just seen Aaron flying over the wall, passersby had already leapt into action. By the time I got to the edge, there were people down on the rocks lifting the very terrified Aaron up to safety. Others standing around also clamored to help, and one woman was an absolute angel. She sat with Aaron and kept him talking, focusing on calming him down while we waited for the 911 response team that was summoned by still others. I was in a state of shock at the time and can’t tell you enough how grateful I am to all of these people who stepped up to help us.

Fortunately, Aaron was properly outfitted with a Bern bike helmet at the time of his accident. Without it, he would not be with us today. This helmet literally saved his life. It was cracked and dented as a result of the fall, clearly showing us where significant brain damage was avoided. I am now a staunch bike-helmet advocate! I see so many children out riding bikes with helmets that are ill-fitting and barely more than a styrofoam hat in the shape of a shark, unicorn, or kitty and wonder whether one of these helmets would have stopped the significant damage that was avoided by wearing the well-fitting, hard-shell Bern helmet. Our children and grandchildren are irreplaceable, so only the best in protection is good enough for them.

Aaron spent just under 4 days at Harborview, and was helped by many fine, caring doctors and nurses both in the Emergency Room and PICU. Our eternal gratitude goes out to them as well.

At Harborview, we learned that Aaron had fractured his skull. He also had several fractures around both eye orbitals, multiple deep nose fractures, and his upper right jaw was fractured as well. Right now he is back home, and back to playing with his trains and cars, colors and crafts as he continues to heal. The doctors are waiting for the significant eye swelling to subside before they can determine whether he is in need of surgery to repair some of the fractures as there is the possibility that they may be impinging facial nerves and eye muscles. Right now we call him our little puffer fish!

Since the accident, we have heard that there have been several other incidents along the unprotected stretch that runs around Alki Avenue and drops off to large boulders. I walk that path several afternoons a week, and with the warmer weather I am seeing more and more children along the way either walking, running, or riding scooters and bikes. Knowing how the younger ones can rapidly dart away and put themselves in danger, I have to wonder what the City of Seattle can do to make this a safer place for us all. We came so close to losing a precious 4 year old that day. God forbid another child, or even an adult, is lost forever due to a slip or fall and lack of fencing along this area.

We don’t know who any of the people are who helped us on the beach last Tuesday, but we really want to extend our heartfelt gratitude to them for them being there and stepping up to help. I don’t know what we would have done without their help! We are blessed to live in a community with so many caring people.

Teri says they *do* know some of Aaron’s rescuers – the Seattle Fire Department personnel – and that they plan to visit those fire stations soon (the log from Tuesday shows units from 3 stations) to say thanks in person.

Mass, reception next Thursday for Jack Meduna, 1946-2015

April 10, 2015 at 5:17 pm | In Obituaries, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 2 Comments

Jack Meduna will be remembered with a Mass at Holy Family and reception at Forest Lawn next Thursday. Here’s the remembrance his family is sharing:

Jack Meduna, 68, of West Seattle, passed away April 2nd after fighting Lung Cancer for almost a year.

He was born in Seattle on December 18th, 1946. At a young age he attended Briscoe Boarding School for boys, then went on to graduate from O’Dea. He began pre-med at the UW but was drafted to Vietnam. Upon his return, he worked on a fishing boat in Alaska until finding his calling as a Seattle Police Officer. For 34 years, Jack absolutely loved his career with SPD and was also a Hostage Negotiator. He loved interacting with the public and all his fellow officers.

In 1986 Jack married for the second time and found the love of his life, Virgie.

They spent 23 years together, often traveling the Oregon Coast and eventually all over Europe before she passed 7 years ago. Jack is survived by his daughters Jill Casillas (husband Shane), Cami Aksdal (husband Todd) and son Clay Johnson (wife Amanda), and by his four grandchildren, Sydney Jaksich, Corbin Jaksich, Georgia Lee Aksdal, and Michael Aksdal and his sisters Vinette Tichi (husband Dennis), Roxanne Roten (partner Scott).

A mass will be held in his honor on Thursday, April 16th at 2 pm at Holy Family Church (9622 20th Ave. SW) followed by a graveside burial at Forest Lawn (6701 30th Ave. SW) with a reception to follow, also at Forest Lawn.

In honor of Jack and his love for pigs, please consider a donation to a place that meant a lot to him – Pigs Peace Sanctuary.

(WSB publishes West Seattle obituaries by request, free of charge. Please e-mail the text, and a photo if available, to editor@westseattleblog.com)

Memorial this Saturday for Michael R. Shomaker, 1958-2015

April 1, 2015 at 8:15 pm | In Obituaries, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 1 Comment

Services are planned this Saturday (April 4th) for Michael R. Shomaker. Here’s the remembrance his family is sharing:

Michael Robert Shomaker
January 25, 1958 ~ March 28, 2015

Beloved husband of Michelle, son of Bob and Myrna Shomaker, father of Kyle, Cody, and Sophie Shomaker, brother of Beth Torgeson (Ron) and David Shomaker (Kathy), passed away after a valiant battle with myelofibrosis (blood cancer). Eagle Scout, Sea Scout, Control Systems Engineer, smart, funny, very caring, talented up the kazoo.

There was nothing he couldn’t fix or make better.

Services Saturday 4/4 at Forest Lawn Funeral Home, West Seattle. Viewing 12:00 pm, Chapel Service 1:00 pm, graveside following.

(WSB publishes West Seattle obituaries by request, free of charge. Please e-mail the text, and a photo if available, to editor@westseattleblog.com)

Memorial for Don Smathers this Wednesday in The Junction

March 30, 2015 at 9:34 am | In Obituaries, West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 3 Comments

We promised to let you know when we heard about memorial plans for Don Smathers, whose death at age 65 was reported here one week ago. We now know the gathering will be at 5 pm this Wednesday (April 1st) at Junction Plaza Park.

Congratulations to new West Seattle Eagle Scouts Jacob Carney, Spencer Gjording, John Roach

March 29, 2015 at 8:09 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 6 Comments

Thanks to Julie Nugent-Carney for the photo and report:

On Saturday, March 21st, Troop 282 recognized Jacob Carney, John Roach, and Spencer Gjording for achieving the Boy Scouts of America’s highest award during their Eagle Court of Honor ceremony at Camp Long. Guest Speaker Joe McDermott, King County Councilmember, acknowledged their achievement and recalled his own experiences as a Boy Scout. Dow Constantine, King County Executive (and Eagle Scout), sent a congratulatory video message to the boys that was shown at the ceremony.

In addition to meeting all the requirements to achieve the Eagle Rank, the three young men led local community projects including revitalizing the community garden at Longfellow Creek near Sealth High School, restoring 150 feet of trail at Camp Schoenwald in Burien, and constructing raised garden beds for the Seattle Nativity School which was founded to help low-income, at-risk children prepare for college.

Julie shared this report on Jacob’s project (Longfellow Creek) last May.

FOUND: Teenager no longer missing

March 27, 2015 at 5:15 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 2 Comments

SATURDAY UPDATE: Elvis was found at a friend’s home. Thanks for being on the lookout.

EARLIER:
Click to read the rest of FOUND: Teenager no longer missing…

UPDATE: Amanda Knox’s conviction overturned by Italian court

March 27, 2015 at 2:47 pm | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 49 Comments

2:47 PM: The Associated Press reports that the much-awaited verdict is finally in from Italy, and that the murder conviction of Amanda Knox, who grew up in West Seattle, has been overturned. We’re told paparazzi have been staked out in Arbor Heights, where much of her family lives, so you may see unusual media-type activity in the hours ahead. (Photo added – some of the photo/video turnout we saw there around 3:30 pm)

More to come.

3:04 PM: The British newspaper The Guardian is live-chronicling the verdict’s aftermath on both sides of the Atlantic and says Knox supporters are celebrating at Salty’s on Alki (WSB sponsor), where, their reporter writes, “When news of the verdict broke, the sound of fireworks briefly echoed triumphantly over the water.” Knox has remained stateside during this legal proceeding; The Guardian says her lawyer told her about the decision, and she told him she was “very happy.” The decision also exonerated her former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito in the 2007 Perugia, Italy, killing of Knox’s then-roommate Meredith Kercher.

4:46 PM: The Guardian’s ongoing live chronicle includes a statement from Knox, including: “I am tremendously relieved and grateful for the decision of the Supreme Court of Italy. The knowledge of my innocence has given me strength in the darkest times of this ordeal. And throughout this ordeal, I have received invaluable support from family, friends, and strangers. To them, I say: Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Your kindness has sustained me. I only wish that I could thank each and every one of you in person.” In a separate statement, her family says they are “thrilled” and “grateful” and “want to express our profound gratitude to all of those who have supported Amanda and our family.”

8:37 PM: Just before 8 pm, Knox made a short statement to the crews who had been staked out outside the Arbor Heights house. KING5.com has the video up.

Good luck to all in the State Geographic Bee today, including one more West Seattle competitor, Devin Graves

March 27, 2015 at 10:29 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 2 Comments

The Washington State Geographic Bee is just getting under way at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma. We’ve already featured three West Seattle competitors – and just learned about one more. At right, Devin Graves of Explorer West Middle School (WSB sponsor) was crowned EWMS champion and then, as did the other competitors in Tacoma today, scored high enough on a written exam to make the state Bee. It’s the third consecutive year that EWMS has been represented in the statewide competition. Good luck to Devin, and also to Jack Crowley from Madison Middle School (featured here March 13) and Aiden Houlette from Schmitz Park Elementary and Jean-Pierre Dufour from Westside School (WSB sponsor), both featured here Tuesday. We hope to know by late afternoon who’s advancing to the national Bee in Washington, D.C., in May!

West Seattle Veteran Center reopening in The Triangle

March 27, 2015 at 9:27 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people | 2 Comments

Just announced by American Legion Post 160 Commander Keith Hughes:

The West Seattle Veteran Center, an outreach of American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary Post 160, will reopen on Monday, March 30th.

The Center is located in the American Legion Hall at 3618 SW Alaska. Hours of operation will be:

Mondays 9 am-4 pm
Wednesdays/Thursdays 2 pm-8 pm
Fridays 9 am-4 pm
Closed Tuesdays/weekends

The West Seattle Veteran Center is an all-volunteer operation, and is here to serve all Veterans and their families, regardless of what branch of service or what time period they served.

If you are a Veteran living in the Southwest Corridor, you can help support the Center by joining American Legion Post 160. Membership is only $35 per year.

Award-winning basketball coach Sonya Elliott is leaving West Seattle High School

March 26, 2015 at 10:19 am | In West Seattle news, West Seattle people, WS & Sports | 2 Comments

(WSB photo from February 2015: Coach Elliott helps cut down net after Metro League title win)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

It’s the epitome of “going out on top.”

After a history-making season in which her team made it to the state tournament and won the Metro League championship, West Seattle High School girls’ basketball head coach Sonya Elliott is leaving.

Elliott, a longtime West Seattle resident, was honored as Metro League Coach of the Year twice, in 2013 as well as this year, a showstopping season that concluded March 7th (WSB coverage here) – a season that, as she remarked at the WSHS pep rally before the team’s first state game, had the whole school (and community!) cheering for girls’ basketball.

She shared the news with WSB via e-mail late last night and said her players already know: “I won’t be coaching at West Seattle next year. It was a really tough decision, because as you know there are some amazing girls on the team and we have all worked hard over the last 5 years to build the program, but it was time.”

2014-2015 was Coach Elliott’s fifth season leading the team. We first checked in with her during the first season – noting that she took over after a season in which the WSHS girls had won a total of three games, and that she brought in new initiatives including a holistic focus on academics as well as basketball fundamentals.

That first 2010 story featured an inspirational guest Elliott brought in to talk with her team; she continued that initiative up through this year, too. Elliott herself proved an inspirational figure beyond her basketball-coaching skills, with a story she turned into a book titled “Back on the Court,” telling how she came back from a life-threatening and heartbreaking tragedy.

We have a followup question out about what’s next for her, and we’re also asking WSHS what’s next for the team; we’ll add updates as we get them.

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